April is National Stress Awareness Month, and while everyone experiences some form of stress, it’s particularly relevant to those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2023 facts and figures report, over 11 million Americans provide unpaid care for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. These caregivers provide over 18 billion hours (about 2,100,000 years) of caregiving services valued at nearly $340 billion (about $1,000 per person in the US), and women account for more than 63% of these caregivers.
The statistics are staggering, and caregivers often feel alone and isolated in their struggles. The burden of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be overwhelming. Caregivers often experience depression, as well as physical, emotional, financial, and social stress. This stress can be significant and can lead to burnout and adverse health problems.
It’s important to remember that we must care for ourselves before we can care for others. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” While caregivers often put other’s needs before their own, they must be kind to themselves as well. Seeking help and assistance when needed may be necessary to relieve stress and prevent caregiver burnout.
The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips for identifying and managing caregiver stress. Some of these tips include reaching out to family and friends, joining a caregiver support group, taking frequent breaks, practicing self-care, and seeking professional help when needed. Check out the Alzheimer’s Association’s website for additional resources and tips on caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or related dementia.
In conclusion, caring for a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s or related dementia is a significant responsibility that can take a toll on caregivers’ emotional and physical health. National Stress Awareness Month reminds us of the importance of identifying and managing caregiver stress. By taking care of ourselves, seeking support, and practicing self-care, we can provide better care for our loved ones and improve our own well-being.